DESPITE several criticisms against Manny Pacquiao that range from his religious beliefs to his foray into the political arena that supposedly diminished his once unprecedented popularity, many Filipinos consider his Sunday fights as church.
As early as 7:30 a.m., people have started lining up SM City North EDSA where the Pacquiao vs Bradley III match will be shown in two movie theaters starting at 8 a.m.
Many came as a part of a barkada. Several are couples out on an early morning date. Some brought their kids. The audience is predominantly male. All have shelled out P500 to watch a live, commercial-free experience of what could possibly be Pacquiao's last match as a professional pugilist.
Souvenir event shirts are being sold outside the lobby at the cheap price of P100 apiece. The reason? All are from Pacman's previous fights such as Marquez 3 and 4, Mosley and Algieri.
No Pacquiao vs Bradley III shirts were printed by SM for the occasion.
While brands such as Rexona which Pacquiao endorses, hand out free samples to the around 120 people in Cinema 1, a pretty model will later show round cards during the penultimate event.
More continually arrive as the main event approached but the number is a far cry from previous fights.
Warlito Casam, a 71-year old retiree, said he has always watched Pacquiao's fights and would aupport him in his senate bid in the May 2016 polls.
"Iba si Manny. Pero kung ito na yung huli e 'yun yung gusto niya e. Pero dahil sa ginawa nya sa sports, iboboto namin siya."
Establishments such as Sogo Hotels will also show free viewings inside their premises, as advertised by a large billboard in Quiapo while a delayed showing of the fight will be shown in Plaza Miranda.